Jelly Roll Morton, Inventor Of Jazz, Online Book by Alan Lomax

with Some sheet music & lyrics.

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ing with rural or Negro artists, who seldom even knew what a copyright was. Even Jelly Roll said, "I never paid attention to copyrights those days because I had a thousand great ideas and I knew i could always come up with new material/*)
Lester went on, "Well, I reckon I own about three thousand tunes, most of them blues'—this gentleman who can't read or perform or even sing a note of music—"And you know what those soandso s did to me/ Lester's voice rose in a wail, "I sold one thousand and four hundred tunes in my catalogue to a certain music corporation and they never paid me a nickel. Now they Just laugh at me when 1 call them!"
The Melrose boys were only little fish in a shark-infested sea. Nevertheless, Jelly Roll underestimated them when he saw them as "nice polite Southern boys who needed a break." While he was "helping" them, they were helping themselves to large slices of his tunes. In return, Walter Melrose explained with the myopic self-importance so familiar to his trade, "We did a lot to build him up. We published his tunes. We got him a Victor contract. And he lived off his royalties," adding, "111 have to hand it to him. That guy was prolific. He could go home and produce overnight."
Jelly Roll was thirty-eight in 1933, an old man in the jazz field, but he turned out new compositions with the fire and energy of a youngster. During the next decade he composed and arranged almost a hundred original works of jazz * in which the New Orleans idea was, for the first time, set forth clearly in musical notation. Not only did he compose hits, but many of his compositions became standard in the jazz reper­tory, the whole mass of his ideas forming the basis of the universal hot language, intoned by every band and written by all arrangers. The trouble was, perhaps, that he never let anybody forget that.
"Jelly Roll was a man," said one of his old Chicago friends, "who could talk himself right into a million-dollar proposition and talk himself right out again. Jelly Ron,* the speaker
* See Appendix I.